The Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School is an intellectual center that explores the implications of the Internet and new information technologies for law and society. The ISP is guided by the values of democracy, development, and civil liberties. Our work includes copyright, media law and policy, transparency, and privacy.
Accountability for War Algorithms
Recent efforts to cure cancer—in particular, the President’s 2016 announcement of a “Cancer Moonshot”—have focused on employing public-private partnerships, joint ventures between private industry and public agencies. Yet, the goal of public-private partnerships like the Cancer Moonshot centers on the production of public goods: scientific information. Using private incentives in this context presents numerous puzzles for both intellectual property law and information policy. This Article examines whether—and to what extent—intellectual property and information policy can be tailored achieve the Cancer Moonshot’s goals. It shows that the success of the Cancer Moonshot, and other similar public-private partnerships, turn on data-sharing—the production, disclosure, and ultimate use of data. The Article also provides several concrete solutions for appropriately employing patents, trade secrets, and regulatory exclusivities to encourage different facets of data-sharing. Lastly, the Article concludes by using the Cancer Moonshot to draw broader lessons about public-private partnerships, generally, including considerations of data privacy, scientific reproducibility, and transaction costs.